Football

J.C. Jackson ‘looking forward’ to facing Stefon Diggs after last season’s matchups

Jackson – who just won the AFC's Defensive Player of the Month – had a rough time against Diggs in 2020, but is confident heading into Monday's game.

J.C. Jackson was chasing Stefon Diggs for much of the matchups between the Patriots and Bills in 2020. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

J.C. Jackson has looked like an elite cornerback for much of the last two seasons. The only times he didn’t look close to it was in both matchups against the Bills – specifically against Stefon Diggs.

The Bills star receiver went off against the Patriots last season. Diggs caught six passes for 92 yards in the first matchup, which seems modest in comparison to what he did in the December matchup in Foxborough. With Jackson mostly covering him, Diggs had nine receptions for 145 yards and three touchdowns en route to a Bills 38-9 blowout win.

With last season’s performance in mind, Jackson took a more humble approach when speaking about Monday’s game – which is a bit of a different tune than how he spoke about the Chargers’ star receiving duo in October.

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“Everbody knows Diggs, man. Diggs one of the best receivers in the game,” Jackson told reporters. “One of the tougher matchups I’ve been against since I’ve been in the league. I’m looking forward to it. I’m ready to compete. We’ll see Monday night.”

After recording the second-most interceptions in 2020 with nine, Jackson again finds himself second for most picks in the league this season. He’s got seven so far, trailing just Cowboys corner Trevon Diggs – who’s Stefon’s younger brother.

Diggs sees a comparison between Jackson and his little brother.

“He gets his hand on the ball, he’s getting his hands on the ball, he’s active kind of like my little brother,” Diggs said. “They like ball hogs, if the ball’s around they’re gonna grab it.”

Jackson’s racked up the turnovers as of late. He has five interceptions and a forced fumble over the Patriots’ six-game winning streak. Jackson’s ability to find the ball in his hands led head coach Bill Belichick to say “You leave any trash laying around, he’s going to pick it up.”

Jackson seemed to appreciate the comment.

“You can’t make no mistakes around me, man. You can’t make no mistakes,” Jackson said with a smile. “That’s how I look at it.”

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Jackson’s stellar play as of late earned him the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Month for November. He credited the Patriots’ front seven for helping to pressure opposing quarterbacks into making bad throws plus his “amazing” hands and “great ball skills.”

But as Jackson has fully acclimated into becoming the Patriots’ No. 1 corner following the departure of Stephon Gilmore, he thinks his experience in the league is paying off.

“I’m more comfortable now,” Jackson said. “The game has slowed down for me so I’m able to make more plays and react faster.”

As Jackson appears to be on the path of earning more accolades and a big-money contract this offseason, he “of course” feels that he’s proven something this season.

“This league is based off performance each and every year,” Jackson said. “I feel like I’ve brought my performance up a notch this year because of the time I’ve put in studying, watching extra film, doing work before practice. All that is paying off for me. And you see the results on Sundays, or Mondays.”

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